I’m not sure where the phrase “military diet” comes from because anybody that has been in the military or is still in the military knows that any sort of military diet has become obsolete. The DFAC does have this colored scale for food choices that works reasonably well. Red indicates the food is high in fat and calories. Yellow foods have less fat and fewer calories. And green foods have even less fat and are higher in protein. Even though that scale is a good system, you also have to consider the fast food restaurant availability on base: McDonald’s, Burger King, and many others. This contributes to service members becoming overweight and even obese. Diet has constantly been an issue in the military, especially as service members get older and do less physical training. The military has special mandatory physical training to help prevent and rectify any overweight problem at any level, but this problem can be prevented before it starts.
How to Rectify an Unhealthy Military Diet
The military is missing a command nutritionist that will write out military diet plans and meal pans not only for potentially overweight soldiers but for everyone in the command. The nutritionist should then go to the DFAC with the soldiers who have a problematic military diet and make sure they follow their diet plan. Staying in the right physical condition is part of always being prepared, which is a vital concept in the military. These soldiers should be constantly monitored and weighed in. You have to train, retrain, and counsel everyone in your unit to reform their expectations and goals for weight control.
The Next Step
The next step in truly making progress in the battle against unhealthy military habits is to get rid of the fatty foods in the DFAC alone: the cookies, the salt, the cakes, the ice cream, etc. This is not about punishing anyone. This is about setting and reaching a higher standard. We are all supposed to be in top mental and physical condition. The best way to earn military respect and to boost a soldier’s self-esteem is to show them how they can be fitter. 70 percent of becoming fitter is affected by what you eat, not by what you do in the gym. If unit commanders set a higher PT standard by setting a higher and leaner body fat standard, this would likely increase soldiers’ motivation to eat healthier. If you can get your soldiers to become leaner and more physically fit, you can create a more confident soldier, and you can even increase confidence in your unit from the youngest to the oldest E7. You may want to consider creating platoon or squad challenges that end with some type of reward for the best and most improved soldiers. You should take the motivated soldiers that eat right and hit the gym once a day, averaging a 280 or higher PT score, and pair them up as a team with other soldiers who may be struggling to reach adequate PT scores. This will help develop teamwork and lots of trust and respect. If your soldiers trust you in the gym or DFAC, they’re going to trust you on a mission. This all starts with stronger leadership and higher expectations.
Cutting Out Laziness in the Army
A huge help in raising standards would be if the Army and other branches of the military would quit accepting mediocrity due to laziness. We should quit looking the other way and saying “wow, what command are they in?” Instead, we must address the issue. The public’s perception of our military is that the soldiers are lean and mean. How about we make that the reality? If you don’t know who to ask or refer to, then ask me. I have a degree in exercise science and would be happy to help any veterans, their family members, or active-duty members to have a correct diet and work out. If you ask anybody that knows me, I live in the gym as much as I can, and I have always enjoyed helping. Please keep in mind that this is not just a PT score concern or a concern about your career. There are many diet plans that work about the same as a physical fitness plan. You simply have to find the one that best works for you and follow it for 21 days, since this is how long it takes the human body to create a habit. Do not just wait around for a convenient time. Start now, get motivated. Begin to make a difference today. Take better charge of your careers and take better charge of your soldiers by helping them, teaching them, and training them. That is what real leaders do.